Shooting Victim Fails to Appear, So Charges Are Dropped

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Prince George's County prosecutors dropped attempted murder and other charges against an Oxon Hill man just before his trial was scheduled to begin yesterday because the victim did not show up to testify.

It was the 13th time in 15 months that charges have been dropped against a defendant accused of a homicide or other violent crime in Prince George's, in most cases because of problems with a key state witness.

Defendant James G. Jenkins, 36, had been charged with attempted murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, a handgun violation and first-degree assault. According to police charging documents, Jenkins and two other men, each of whom had a handgun, robbed two men in Oxon Hill late on the night of March 22, 2006. Police said Jenkins fired three shots at one victim, hitting him in the forearm and upper torso.

A jury was selected in Jenkins's case Monday, and opening statements were scheduled for yesterday. Before the jurors were sworn in, Assistant State's Attorney Carol Coderre told Circuit Court Judge Maureen Lamasney that the man Jenkins is accused of shooting could not attend the trial yesterday or today.

Coderre asked for a continuance, but defense attorney Michael Lawlor objected, and Lamasney denied Coderre's request.

After the judge denied a second request by Coderre to go before another judge to seek a continuance, the prosecutor said the state was dropping charges against Jenkins.

In many of the other dropped cases, State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said he suspected that the witnesses had been intimidated and feared retaliation. But Ivey said yesterday that there was no indication that the witness who did not show up for the Jenkins trial was intimidated.

The witness had testified at the February trial of one of Jenkins's codefendants. "He was certainly solid enough for us to get a conviction in that case," Ivey said.

In that trial, a Circuit Court jury convicted Maurice E. McKay, 24, of Northeast Washington on Feb. 28 of two counts of robbery and two counts of conspiracy. The jury acquitted McKay of attempted murder, robbery with a deadly weapon and other charges. McKay is awaiting sentencing.

The other codefendant, Anthony E. McRae, 20, of Oxon Hill has pleaded guilty to armed robbery, first-degree assault and a handgun violation. In exchange for his cooperation with the state, his plea agreement calls for him to be sentenced to eight years in prison.

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